Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Blade of the Immortal, Hiroaki Samura’s samurai tale, reaches the end of its long run this week with the publication of Volume 31. Dark Horse began publishing the series in 1996, at a time when manga was not only flipped but chopped into single-issue comics. The world has changed a lot since then, and so has Blade. Samura spent almost 20 years writing and drawing the series, and his storytelling style evolved quite a bit over the years.
Samura’s superb art belies the startling violence of his story: Manji, a renegade samurai, cannot die because his body harbors bloodworms that heal every wound. To shake the curse of immortality, he must kill 1,000 evil men. This task gains focus when he teams with Rin, the daughter of a dojo master whose father was slain in front of her; she seeks not only to avenge his death but also to stop his killers from slaughtering the members of the other dojos to consolidate the power of their own school of fighting, Ittō-ryū. Samura fills the pages with baroque villains and and elaborate weapons of his own invention. The early volumes have a punk feel to them, but eventually he settles into a more traditional style.
In its 36-year history, the venerable U.K. comics anthology 2000AD has only ever featured a handful of superhero strips. Of those relative few, most commentators would say they’re a pretty strong bunch — one cold classic (“Zenith”), and a couple of neglected psychedelic gems (“Storming Heaven,” “Zaucer of Zilk”).
Darkest of them all is Rob Williams’ post-apocalyptic “The Ten-Seconders,” an ongoing tale that sets humanity against a race of superhuman aliens, the self-styled “gods.” When mankind decides to resist against the rule of their new super-powered overlords, the rag-tag group of surviving guerrillas dub themselves “The Ten-Seconders,” as 10 seconds is the average time a human can expect to last in a confrontation with a god.
During its previous two runs in 2000AD, “The Ten-Seconders” has been drawn by four artists: Mark Harrison, Dom Reardon, Sean Thomas and Ben Oliver. Now, after a five-year absence, the strip returns, revitalized by Williams’ pairing with Edmund Bagwell, an artist whose work effortlessly traverses from scenes of ordinary human life before the invasion to the graceful arrival of the gods, to their violence and terror, and onto hints of oncoming cosmic threats. Basically, Bagwell was born to work on this scale. In previous arcs, the threats were analogs for the Justice League and then the Vertigo anti-heroes. This time, we have Galactus/Celestial-styled creatures looming over the planet. Bagwell is one of those few artists whose work has a clear Kirby influence without that fully overpowering his entire style. I’ve been championing Bagwell’s work since 2006, and I literally cannot wait to see what he has in store for us this time.
2000AD has provided ROBOT 6 an exclusive first look at the full opening chapter of the return of “The Ten-Seconders.” It works as an introduction, a recap and as a secret origin for the series’ protagonist Malloy, and leaves us on a doozy of a cliffhanger. As such, it packs a hell of a lot into just six pages!
“The Ten-Seconders” returns July 3 in 2000AD Prog 1839.
I’ve gone on at some length about how awesome George O’Connor’s Olympians series is. His most recent volume even made my Top 10 comics of the year. I’m also on record as digging Aquaman and other ocean-based characters, so it’s exciting that these interests are coming together in March with Olympians, Volume 5: Poseidon — Earth Shaker.
As is typical for the series, O’Connor won’t just tell the story of everyone’s favorite sea god, but will also include the myths around associated characters. In this case: Theseus and the Minotaur, Odysseus and Polyphemos, and the founding of Athens.
Publisher First Second provided ROBOT 6 with the following exclusive preview:
Continuing our look at upcoming graphic novels from Archaia, the publisher provided ROBOT 6 with a peek at pages from Saurav Mohapatra and Vivek Shinde’s Eastern noir comic Mumbai Confidential. The story follows a washed-out, drug-addicted, former member of a government hit squad as he investigates the hit-and-run that put him in a coma for a month. Turns out, it’s an investigation his former bosses don’t want anyone performing.
Mumbai Confidential has been available digitally since July, but will get its hardcover, print debut in March.
Animator Yehudi Mercado brings the zaniness of modern kids’ cartoons to his super-fun, all-ages graphic novel Pantalones, TX: Don’t Chicken Out. It sort of looks like a Cartoon Network version of Dukes of Hazzard, as a band of kids in rural Texas try to outwit, outrun and out-prank a taco truck-riding sheriff and his giant chicken.
The book is available now digitally and the hardcover, print edition arriving in March. Archaia has provided ROBOT 6 with a five-page preview, below:
Josh Tierney’s Spera is a unique take on the fantasy epic. Rather than telling a straight story about a couple of girls trying to rescue one of their kingdom’s from the evil family of the other, the series offers the quest as the framework that holds the book together, but in an anthology-like format. Each story is written by Tierney, but drawn by a different artist, and the tales vary in how much they relate to the main plot. Some push it along directly, while others are diverting side-adventures.
That’s a template employed by a lot of TV shows, and it also works for Spera. It’s a meandering adventure, but a lovely and diverting one. Tierney is working with some wonderful artists, and the upcoming second volume, which goes on sale Feb. 5, will feature work by Giannis Milonogiannis, Kyla Vanderklugt, Afu Chan, and Timothy Weaver.
Archaia has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview, below:
Archaia has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive preview of The Joyners in 3D, which reunites Syndrome collaborators R.J. Ryan and David Marquez. As the title suggests, it’s a 3D graphic novel about a family named Joyner, but it pays special attention to father George, an inventor. As his technology business is taking off, his private life is falling to pieces thanks to “personal betrayals, industrial intrigue, and sexual desire.”
The book, which comes with two pairs of 3D glasses, will be published later this year.
One of the current stars in the Koyama Press lineup is Canadian artist Michael DeForge. So it’s no surprise that Koyama plans to publish the fifth issue of DeForge’s one-man anthology series Lose in 2013. The issue will feature three self-contained stories: “Living Outdoors” tracks two high school students as they explore a zoo and experiment with hallucinogens; “Muskoka” is the story of a cowboy on the road home to see his family; and “Recent Hires” follows a young author’s descent into the criminal underworld in order to win the affections of a girl.
Annie Koyama was kind enough to send us a two-page preview from the “Living Outdoors” story, which you can see below. I’d also highly recommend checking out a story DeForge recently posted to his blog, First Year Healthy.
One of the highlights in Picturebox’s 2013 schedule is the release of So Long, Silver Screen, the first major release by the French artist Blutch, a.k.a. Christian Hincker, in North America. Although he’s one of the most important European cartoonists of the past 20 years or so (his work has greatly influenced such artists as Craig Thompson and Jessica Abel, just to name a few), Blutch’s work has strangely remained unreleased in the United States until now.
As the title suggests, So Long, Silver Screen is Blutch’s ode to the magic of the cinema. I’ll let the Picturebox press release take it from there:
What are the movies? What effect do they have on us? Why do we love them so much? Blutch addresses all these questions in a series of interlocking short comics that move between scholarly history, romantic theory and ribald vignettes, featuring a motley cast of actors and topics including Burt Lancaster, Jean-Luc Godard, Luchino Visconti, Claudia Cardinale, Tarzan, and Michel Piccoli. As much a visual essay as it is graphic novel, a daydream and a fantastic meditation on the other art of telling stories with images, So Long, Silver Screen is a new height for an uncontested master of contemporary cartooning.
The highly influential and award-winning French cartoonist Blutch has published over a dozen books since his 1988 comic debut in the legendary avant-garde magazine Fluide Glacial. His titles include Mitchum, Peplum, and Le Petit Christian. His illustrations appear in Libération, The New Yorker and Les Inrockuptibles. So Long, Silver Screen is his first full-length work to be published in English.
Translated by Edward Gauvin and sporting a cover design by David Mazzucchelli, the graphic novel will be available in stores in April. See a 10-page preview below.
Hot off the heels of his graphic novel The Understanding Monster, Theo Ellsworth and his publisher Secret Acres will release the eighth issue of Ellsworth’s ongoing one-man anthology series, Capacity. The issue will debut May 11 at the Toronto Comics Art Festival, and will be in comic stores in June. You can read the full press release, as well as see a three-page preview of the comic, below. And yes, Virginia, Part 2 of The Understanding Monster is also expected for 2013.
Marvel is nothing if not nimble, changing up the schedule and creative lineup of Hawkeye to allow writer Matt Fraction to address the impact of Hurricane Sandy on New York and New Jersey in Issue 7, with the help of guest artists Steve Lieber and Jesse Hamm. What’s more, Fraction announced he’ll donate his royalties from the issue to the Red Cross’ Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
Hawkeye #7 will be split into two stories, with Lieber illustrating Clint Barton’s efforts to help a friend evacuate his father from Far Rockaway, Queens, and Hamm drawing Kate Bishop’s struggle in Atlantic City as the five-star hotel in which she’s attending a social function begins to flood. Series artist David Aja will return with Issue 8.
“I doubt I could tell this story if I was still writing Thor or Iron Man, but this is what Hawkeye ended up being about,” Fraction told Comic Book Resources in early December. “He’s the superhero that doesn’t matter; all that matters is that he’s a superhero.”
Marvel has provided ROBOT 6 with an exclusive color preview of Hawkeye #7, which goes on sale Jan. 30:
Having released his World War II indictment Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths in 2011, and his compelling childhood memoir Nonnonba in 2012, Drawn & Quarterly will publish Shigeru Mizuki’s most beloved and best-known work, Kitaro, for the first time in North America in 2013.
Created in 1959, Mizuki’s Kitaro, known in Japan as GeGeGe no Kitaro, follows the adventures of a centuries-old little boy who — well, I think the D&Q press release says it best:
Meet Kitaro. He’s just like any other boy, except for a few small differences: he only has one eye, his hair is as an antenna that senses paranormal activity, his geta sandals are jet-powered, and he can blend in to his surroundings like a chameleon. Oh, and he’s a three hundred and fifty year old yokāi (spirit monster). With all the offbeat humor and a delightful cast of characters, Kitaro is a light-hearted romp where the bad guys always get what’s coming to them.
Kitaro is not only incredibly popular in its native country but something of a native landmark, so its release on these shores (the book comes out in February) is noteworthy. As part of Robot 6’s anniversary celebration, the folks at Drawn & Quarterly were kind enough to share a sample story from this upcoming volume, Monster Night Game:
As much as I loved the Ignatz version of Delphine — Richard Sala’s take on Snow White — I’ve been eagerly waiting for Fantagraphics to release a more bookshelf-friendly version. The publisher announced that some time ago, but as the January release draws nearer, Fantagraphics has released some sneak peeks of the new version. There’s an 11-page excerpt in the store and photos of the hardback volume on their blog.
I’ve included a few pages of the excerpt below, but visit the Fantagraphics store to see all 11 and to pre-order the book.
Wizzywig is the story of Kevin “Boingthump” Phenicle, a precocious child who grows up to be one of the most notorious computer hackers in America. An orphan raised by his grandmother, Kevin is a lonely, socially awkward child who, apart from his sole friend Winston, can only count on his skills with computers and breaking into the “Ma Bell” telephone system for solace and entertainment. As he grows older his pranks get more daring, more dangerous and attract the attention of the federal government, which in turn finds him a fugitive on the run. Culled from true stories of real-life hackers, Wizzywig follows not just Kevin’s development from computer geek to wanted man, but also follows the story of the Internet and personal computing itself, and how it changed from handheld, landline phones and 14K modems to social networks and instantaneous communication.
Wizzywig comes out in stores in July. Check out the preview as well as a short promotional video about the book, below.